Participatory Market Research
It is now generally accepted that participatory market research and “knowing your clients” is good business practice. Many MFIs, including Grameen Bank, have conducted client research, which has significantly increased outreach and sustainability. The capacity-building organisation Microsave has developed a range of participatory market research tools. Many microfinance organizations have been trained in and use variants of these.
These can be adapted to:
(see for example the FALS methodology)
- identify differences between women and men through gender disaggregation of research process and information
- identify ways in which products can be designed for empowerment and to increse gender equity
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- It is likely in many cultures that female facilitators would be needed to work with women.
- There is insufficient emphasis on the need to differentiate between designing products which (vulnerable) clients can be persuaded to buy, and those which would really benefit them.
Savings and pensions
In designing savings facilities, a number of key issues must be considered, including: whether savings are compulsory or voluntary, levels of initial deposit required, ease of withdrawal confidentiality, accessibility of the provider and interest rates.
It is likely that many women will require a range of different types of savings provision for different purposes.
Compulsory savings systems are one of the few ways for some women to protect income against the demands of husbands and other family members. If savings are only voluntary, women may be less able to oppose the demands of other family members to withdraw them.At the same time they are likely to need some access to liquid cash for emergencies from a provider who is easily accessible.
In many parts of Africa, for example, where in-laws are likely to take the wives’ as well as husband’s property when he dies, women’s ability to have confidential savings accounts may be a crucial and necessary means of security for the future. Confidentiality may also be important to avoid witchcraft or jealousy from other women. On the other hand public knowledge of savings may in some circumstances increase social status and access to credit.
It is also likely that long term savings products or pensions would decrease women's vulnerability in their old age and thus have a generally strengthening effect on their bargaining power.
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